Monday, March 12, 2007

A way to make the college basketball postseason even more fun

Okay, okay. Last college basketball post before I actually start talking brackets.

Normally, I pay no attention to the N.I.T. whatsoever. It's actually a shame, because the N.I.T. can be fun to watch, I'm sure. But I was thinking, something that would make the N.I.T. a lot more appealing would be to drop some teams from the NCAA tournament into the later rounds of the N.I.T.

After thinking about it, the most logical way to do this would be to take the 16 teams that lose in the second round of the NCAAs and place them into the second round of the N.I.T. Since the N.I.T. only has 32 teams to begin with, that'd give them 32 teams in both the first and the second round, giving it the same amount of rounds as the NCAA tournament. My idea would be that the highest seed to get eliminated from the second round in the NCAAs would play the lowest remaining seed in the corresponding N.I.T. regional, and so on down the list.

This happens in European soccer with the Champions League, where the third place teams from the group stage in that competition fall into the round of 32 in the UEFA Cup. It serves to make the UEFA Cup much more competitive, entertaining, and maybe even above all else, it lends Europe's "minor" cup a lot more credibility. I think it would have the same effect in college basketball.

Of course, the idea would never fly, at least not without a ton of tinkering. The main problem would be scheduling. First of all, the tournaments are set up so that the N.I.T. is over before the NCAA Final Four even begins, as well it should be. The big dance fully deserves center stage. In my scheme, the NCAA second round would have to be held before the N.I.T. second round, and unless the NCAA schedule was really stretched or the N.I.T. schedule compacted, it would mean the NCAAs would finish before the N.I.T.

For another thing, it would mean that a team that drops into the second round of the N.I.T. from the NCAA tournament would wind up having to play one more game if it wins the whole thing (seven) as opposed to an original N.I.T. team, which would just have to play through six rounds. It could be argued that this simply counteracts the fact that teams dropping from the second round of the tourney are probably more talented than their N.I.T. counterparts to begin with, but it would be extremely hard to push this idea on the players on those teams that would have to play the extra game.

Also, my idea would leave N.I.T. coaches completely in the dark. Essentially, they'd have no idea who to expect in the second round of the N.I.T. they'd know it'd be someone from the big dance, but they'd have no idea who. It'd be extremely hard to gameplan for their upcoming opponent on such short notice.

And, of course, the biggest detraction of my idea is that it would sort of ruin the win-or-your-season-is-finished mentality teams have going into the NCAA tournament. The second-round games just wouldn't feel the same knowing that the loser still gets to play on, albeit in a much less meaningful competition.


Basically, here's the best way I can think of how to work this to schedule it as fairly as possible but also so the NCAA tournament finishes after the N.I.T.:

NCAA first round - March 15-16
NCAA second round - March 17-18
N.I.T. first round - March 16-17
N.I.T. second round - March 20-21
NCAA sweet 16 - March 22-23
N.I.T. sweet 16 - March 22-23
NCAA elite 8 - March 24-25
N.I.T. elite 8 - March 25 (come on, you can easily have four games in a day)
N.I.T. final 4 - March 27
N.I.T. championship - March 30
NCAA final 4 - March 31
NCAA championship - April 2

There's not nearly as much downtime in the revised N.I.T. this way, with what would be just three days off at the most between games (although always at least one day off), but it'd be much more entertaining from a fan's perspective.

No comments: